Walla Walla, Vidalia, Maui, or any generic sweet onions will do for these epic Sweet Walla Walla Onion Rings with Basil Buttermilk Dip!
Last meal request? A huge pile of onion rings, no question.
And these sweet Walla Walla onion rings are the classics, the onion rings of your dreams. Thickly sliced, with that perfect ragged crunch on the outside, and a soft sweet bite on the inside. And you know what the strange thing is? They are crazy easy to make. In my experience it rarely happens like that, so take note and enjoy these. One onion makes enough to stuff 2 hungry people.
The sweet Walla Walla onion is Washington’s state veggie. They’re very proud of it, and rightly so. They are so good they’ve been given a special designation by the government which says that only onions grown in and around the Walla Walla Valley can be called Walla Walla onions. Only spectacular foods like Champagne, or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese get this kind of protection, and that usually happens in Europe where they’re a little bit more sophisticated about their food than we are. Here in America we’re just starting to pick up on the idea. It honors what is special about a particular food and protects it. These onions are mild, sweet, delicious, and make a darned great onion ring. I’m glad somebody’s got their back.
The official season starts in early May so keep an eye out. Other sweet onions are Vidalia, and Maui, and you can also find generic sweet onions at your supermarket as well. My Sweet Vidalia Onion Strings are a must try, and I’ve even got a fabulous recipe for Maui Onion Rings that are baked, not fried, if you’re looking for something on the healthier side.
I love to serve these sweet walla walla onion rings with a buttermilk based sauce. For one thing it helps use up the extra buttermilk, and makes a light refreshing dip for the rings. I love the contrast between the crisp fried onions and the cool tangy sauce. You can flavor it anyway you like, if I’m feeling lazy I’ll just add salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Today I blended in fresh basil and it was wonderfully fresh and light.
TIP: Lots of people have the mistaken impression that buttermilk is full of fat and not healthy, when in fact the opposite is true. Buttermilk is technically the liquid leftover after making butter, so it’s very low in fat. Most of what you buy in the supermarket is cultured with probiotics, sort of like yogurt, so it is healthy and has a nice tangy taste. Some people drink it straight but I mostly use it for cooking and baking. It’s one of my pantry staples.
Plan on one onion for every two people, and be sure to work in batches because the coating mixture will become soggy after dunking the wet rings. Make separate batches of the coating rather than doubling the recipe. I really believe onion rings are among the most foolproof of recipes. The main problem you’ll encounter is not getting your oil up to temperature. A clip on thermometer is a good investment. My rule of thumb is that the rings should fry up to golden in about 2 minutes or a little under. Any longer and the oil isn’t hot enough. Any shorter and it’s too hot.
…omg I’m just putty in the hands of a great onion ring…
Sweet Walla Walla Onion Rings
- 1 Walla Walla Onion
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp onion salt
- vegetable oil for frying
Basil Buttermilk Dip
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- handful of fresh basil leaves
- squeeze of lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the onions and slice them thickly, about 1/2 inch. Gently separate the slices into rings, and don't discard the little center pieces.
- Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and add the onions. Stir to coat.
- Pour oil to a depth of several inches into a pan. I used about a quart of oil Heat to 350F.
- In a large zip lock baggie, put the flour, breadcrumbs, and onion salt, and mix well.
- When the oil is hot, drop a few of the onion rings into the baggie and toss to coat well.
- Add the onion rings to the hot oil and fry until golden, about 2 minutes, flipping once or twice. Work in small batches so you don't crowd the pan.
- Drain on paper towels, and serve hot with dip.
- To make the dip, put the buttermilk in a small food processor or blender, and add the basil leaves and lemon juice. Process just until the basil is well incorporated. Add the seasonings to taste.